In recent weeks, on AEW Dynamite, we have seen the formation and solidifying of Team Taz, further strengthened by the newest addition, Will Hobbs. The quartet of Taz, Brian Cage, Ricky Starks, and Will Hobbs is looking to make themselves known, now, more than ever before. In this piece, I will be examining each of Team Taz’s in-ring competitors and where they can go from here.
Ricky Starks is, without a doubt, one of AEW’s hottest commodities. Rumour has it, he is cooler than a polar bears toenails. He is a product of New Orleans with a big mouth and a bad attitude. He has opened Dynamite and he has closed Dynamite. He is consistently showing up, showing out, and showing off; proving why the men call him “Absolute” and the ladies call him “Stroke Daddy”.
Starks is currently embroiling in a feud with, TNT Champion, Darby Allin and will be hoping to get his hands on the title when the pair meet in an eventual title match. The pair have fought off before in an AEW ring with Darby getting the better of Starks, but there are questions about the legitimacy of the win as Starks’ shoulder appeared to be off the mat.
Starks has proven against Allin that he is not too handsome to be hardcore and will be hoping he can prove it again in an eventual rematch. Ricky Starks is a wrestler who doesn’t necessarily need a belt and, in his own words, ‘could probably go my entire career without ever having a title’ but that TNT Title would ‘add a little certain spice to things and that only enhances the flavour of the entire meal’. Ricky isn’t just about taking titles though, he is about taking everything up to an entirely new level.
Ricky Starks, on the mic and in the ring, was absolute gold but under Taz, he has become platinum. He has stepped his game up immeasurably and has proven why no one can compare to him when it comes to personality and character. He is a black and white thing; either you like him or you don’t.
So, for Ricky Starks, what’s next is capturing that TNT title off of Darby Allin because his shoes are tied and he is ready to go the distance. He has everything going for him and would be the ideal person to have representing a TV company as large as TNT. The question remains to be seen as to why it took wrestling so long to unearth Ricky Starks but the fact of the matter is, is that he is absolute, without a doubt, a future AEW titleholder.
Next up is FTW Champion, the Machine, Brian Cage. Brian Cage is on a roll in singles action within his AEW career and has proven that he is more than just a “big guy”. He has a unique combination of insane strength and impressive athleticism that sees him stand out from all the other “big guys” within AEW.
Brian Cage, in my opinion, is in the awkward situation where many of the top talents are already within feuds. Much like Eddie Kingston though, I think Brian Cage should be in store for a second AEW World Championship. When Moxley and Omega squared off on 2nd December, Cage should now get the next shot. His singles record speaks for itself and there is no one else worth his time. He is a top talent who should be facing the best of the best and I believe with Taz at the helm, they will be able to wriggle their way into another title match.
Another storyline I’d love to see play out is Death Triangle vs Team Taz with a more specific focus on PAC vs Cage. PAC is currently feuding with Eddie Kingston but when that has run its course, I believe PAC vs Cage could be incredible. Both groups have three wrestlers, so they can have a variety of match combinations but I think PAC and Cage could be the main event an AEW Dynamite.
So, for Brian Cage, what’s next is hopefully another AEW title opportunity and after that a continuance of his dominance. AEW have something special in Brian Cage, they just need to keep giving him the platform to prove why he is “The Machine” that he is.
Lastly, is the newest addition to Team Taz, Will Hobbs. Will Hobbs, initially, came into AEW as an enhancement talent but his willpower, intensity and impressive in-ring skills managed to get him a contract at AEW and they clearly had big things planned for him. He has been seen in segments revolving around AEW’s top stars such as Cody Rhodes, Jon Moxley and Darby Allin. He has been thrust into the upper card of AEW which can be a lot of pressure, but pressure makes diamonds and Will Hobbs is that diamond.
Originally looking as if he was coming to the ring to assist Cody Rhodes, Will Hobbs took a grip of the FTW Championship and smashed it into the head of Cody. This simply sets up Hobbs’ first feud within AEW to be against Cody Rhodes. Cody has helped proliferate the careers of people like Darby Allin, Ricky Starks, MJF, Orange Cassidy and Sammy Guevara, just to name a few. So for Will Hobbs to get the chance to face Cody Rhodes as his first feud, I can only assume AEW has big things planned for him.
Although, Will Hobbs might not get the better of Cody just to be able to tangle with him raises your stock immensely and from that point onwards the sky is the limit for Hobbs. I could picture him in the TNT title scene, assuming Ricky Starks doesn’t win it. Will Hobbs, in the next few years, can easily become one of the biggest stars in the company. Being under the learning tree of Taz is going to help him immensely with his mic work, which I would argue is his main downside as of now.
Team Taz has everything a group needs. A fantastic spokesperson in Taz, an athletic big man in Brian Cage, a charismatic stud in Ricky Starks and an up-and-comer in Will Hobbs. The potential for Team Taz to become one of the top things within AEW is there and I believe, within the next year, they will be the most dominant group in the company. So sit back and relax as Team Taz takeover because this revolution will be televised.
Images courtesy of AEW